Can a supervisor forbid someone to apply for an open position?

One of my colleagues was specifically told by his supervisor not to apply for an open position. Somehow, that doesn’t sound right to me. Is that actually discrimination? This person is more than qualified for the open position but the supervisor wants to put him in a different role. However, can she just tell him you can’t apply?

Posted  11-12-2014

Ann Kiernan replies:

It is only illegal discrimination if the supervisor’s statement is based on the employee’s race, age, sexual orientation, etc., and it sounds like there is no evidence of that.

If the employee is in a union, I would imagine that this would violate the collective bargaining agreement.  If the job is civil service, I assume this would violate the personnel regulations.  Does your employer have an employee handbook? I’ll bet it says something about encouraging employees to seek opportunities to advance. I suggest that your colleague go speak to Human Resources about this. I hope this helps.

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About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.